I have a confession to make: I didn’t care much for whiskey before I went to Scotland. It’s like going to France and not liking red wine. Just… why? I’d sampled a little here and there, but my preference was to have any whiskey, scotch, or bourbon with fizzy water. Sacrilegious, I know.
My first attempt at tasting scotch was in Scotland five years ago. I could taste differences in the various ages we were served as part of a tour of the Glenfiddich distillery, but that was about all.
I missed out on tasting very much scotch on our last trip to Scotland in 2012 because I was only nineteen and really didn’t know much about what it ought to taste like. It was very strong, not very sweet, and I just… *shrugs* wasn’t interested. I know, now, that disinterest is practically a crime against such a beautiful and delicate art. I sipped a little here and a little there in the intervening years, but it wasn’t until I was nested in an overstuffed leather chair in Knockderry’s sitting room, staring out at Loch Long with a scotch and soda in my hand, that I really started enjoying myself.
We went to another distillery this time around. It was near Knockderry and Loch Lomond, where we were fishing earlier in the day.
Note: fishing on Loch Lomond in October, when it’s raining, may lead you somewhere close to hypothermia. Furthermore, scotch is not a cure for hypothermia. It makes you feel better, though. Now you know more about both hypothermia and the effects of distilled spirits on the human body.
Ahem. Back to the scotch. The waterfall behind the main office building of the distillery is where they once got all of the water to make their merchandise. Now, however, they pipe it from a little further up in the highlands – same water, just a bigger source – and the waterfall is mostly for show. Glengoyne, additionally, is unique for two reasons: they are the southernmost highland distillery in Scotland – going so far as to age their scotch in the ‘lowlands’ of Scotland and, secondly, they use dry air instead of peat smoke to dry the barley. The result is a clean, smooth, pure Scotch of delightful delicacy, sans smokey flavor/nose.
I got to try a few of their different offerings as well as another clear, highland scotch called Cragganmore.
Whenever you’re trying something new, you usually have to give it a few tries before you start differentiating and appreciating. You might learn to love something you never thought you’d ever value.
In my case, it was a neat scotch next to a warm fire while sitting across from my father.